Fans of the blue bomber anxiously waiting to see if Mighty No. 9 can live up to its own legacy may want to pay attention to this next title. Echoes of Eridu is a Mega Man X-inspired roguelike with procedurally generated layouts and both local and online co-op play. The game features fast-paced action platforming and a male/female protagonist duo, while making no attempt to hide the many sources of inspiration it draws from. (Many of the item drops are references to other games, ranging from League of Legends and the card game Munchkin, to Mega Man, of course.)
The two main characters each have a distinctive playstyle that makes them play fundamentally different. Whereas Nina is a ranged character who uses what may or may not be a buster shot, Ace is a melee-centric sword swinger. The two can be further customized via the pre-game loadout screen, where players can equip gear that augments their weapons and grants secondary passive abilities. For instance, Nina has a few differ blaster augments; one which allows her to shoot both forwards and backwards simultaneously, while another fires in an outward “X” shape. Other equipment choices will often have a tradeoff of sorts, forcing players to trade speed for durability, or increased energy consumption in exchange for more powerful secondary attacks. (Secondary attacks are special abilities that can be used until energy is depleted, and are typically used to get out of tight spots.)
In addition to customizing the loudout before the game begins, players will unlock chests and defeat bosses to earn additional, randomized passive abilities that stack on top of each other. During my time with the demo, I happened to find a number of energy buffs that both increased my total energy and reduced the consumption of energy during special attacks to an absurd rate, effectively allowing me to use my extremely powerful attacks freely. (I played as Ace, and his default special ability creates an outward fire blast that destroys enemies on either side of him.) Other loot drops include blueprints for additional loadout options, and bonus secondary special abilities that can be cycled through at any time.
Echoes of Eridu refers to itself as “co-optional”, meaning the game can be just as easily enjoyed solo as with a partner. I was lucky enough to get some playtime in with Batterystaple Games founder Chris King, and while the experience is plenty of fun while playing alone, as most traditional Mega Man gamers would be so inclined, having a second person around to save your bacon is certainly a welcome addition to the game. (For the record, Chris carried me pretty hard for the first part of the demo while I got my bearings, but I totally made up for it after he died and I finished the second half of the first stage we played on all on my own.) If your partner dies in co-op, you have the option to revive them at the cost of half your own health, provided you can find where they were killed and you have some life to spare. At the end of each stage, there is a boss room – accessed by passing across two locked doors a la Mega Man – and upon defeating the boss, players have access to a shop where they can refill their health and energy meters, or purchase one of three new weapons available. Purchases are made by spending nuts (not the kind you eat), the game’s currency, which can be acquired by defeating enemies and looting chests. Refilling your health and energy is usually a good idea, since you current status carries over to the next stage.
While it’s still early days for the game – which is currently in Alpha – and there’s a lot left to implement, Echoes of Eridu is a fantastic addition to the action platforming genre. Thus far, Batterystaple Games has managed to respect the tried-and-true aspects of classic titles that came before, while offering a few fresh mechanics that successfully reinvigorate the crowded space popularized by Mega Man X. The game is currently looking for funding on Kickstarter – with stretch goals that include the addition of extra playable characters – and has also launched a Greenlight campaign, so there are a number of ways to support the project for those inclined to do so. Otherwise, additional information can be found on the developer’s website.